Pilot Perception: The Carrie Diaries

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: The Carrie Diaries, CW in the U.S. and City TV in Canada, Mondays at 8/7c

The Pedigree: The show was written and executive produced by Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell along with Amy Harris (Sex and the City, Gossip Girl). The pilot was directed by Miguel Arteta (Enlightened, The New Normal).

The Cast & How You Know Them: AnnaSophia Robb (An American Girl Holiday, Soul Surfer) is Carrie. The show also stars Austin Butler (Life Unexpected, Switched at Birth), Ellen Wong (Combat Hospital), Katie Findlay (The Killing), Stefania Owen (Running Wilde), Brendan Dooling (Unforgettable), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who, Law & Order: UK), and Matt Letscher (Bent, Scandal).

The Premise: This Sex and the City prequel is set in 1984, as 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw tries to deal with her mother’s death and her first internship in New York City in the midst of other family, school, friend, and boy issues.

A Taste:

What Works: The show does a very good job of evoking the ’80s with music, fashion, and more. It definitely knows what mood and tone it wants. And I was pulled in by both Carrie and her sister immediately, as well as by Carrie’s friend Walt. (The other characters were fine, but not as instantaneously compelling.) I’m more interested in the school stuff than the city stuff, but the combination of the two provides a good framework and sets this apart from other teen shows.

What Doesn’t: Prequels are always tricky; this needs to pull in a new audience without alienating the old one. And it needs to work within the strictures set up by the original; how well it does that remains to be seen. In a vacuum, though, my main issues with this episode were that the writing was a bit clunky and overwrought at times, and that some of the things teenagers were getting away with undetected were unbelieveable – though that’s pretty standard for the CW and TV in general.

Other Items of Note: I have actually never seen a single episode of Sex and the City, so I’m going into this relatively blind. That means that I don’t have a fan’s built-in affection for it, but I also don’t notice continuity issues or whether the character is comparatively believable. So factor that into your interpretation of my opinion.

Our Favorite Line: “I don’t have anything to wear.” “Come on, you’ve got a whole floor full of clothing.”

You Might Like This if you like teen drama and ’80s nostalgia. You may or may not like it if you like Sex and the City – I have a feeling that opinions among fans will be divided. An affection for ’80s music will help too.

If You’re Interested: You can watch the pilot at the CW site, the City TV site or app, or on Hulu. Or catch a rerun tomorrow night on the CW at 9/8c, after The Vampire Diaries.

(Image courtesy of the CW.)

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